New Year, new resolutions… It’s time to heed the advice of persons older and wiser. If you’re a youth player we certainly qualify as the former, if not the latter. We’ve compiled a list of 25 things every young laxer should know and keep in mind. From the beginner to the aspiring Division I recruit, there is something here for everyone.
1) When shooting with your friends, don’t stand around. Practice shooting on the run coming out of dodges. Time and room shots in games are few and far between.
2) Work on your off hand. Only the elite talent/athlete gets by with one hand. Chances are you do not fall into that category.
3) Celebrate with class. Thousands of players before you have scored more clutch goals than you. Act like you’ve been there before. Same thing goes for dog piling on the field after a win.
4) Get low and use two hands on ground balls. Nothing makes you look softer than a failed one-handed scoop in traffic.
5) Just put the ball in the net. You can be the kid with 3 goals in the box score or the the kid with 1 goal, a missed behind the back, and a sweet crank that missed top cheddar. Overhand and off hip work well.
6) Respect your coaches. You may not be the All-American you think you are. Make eye contact when your coaches are talking and keep your mouth shut. You might learn something.
7) String yourself a nice gamer and a good backup if possible and be done with it. Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’s and feel like you always need the next best thing. Spend that time and energy working on your fitness and skills.
8) If you are on a budget, buy last year’s head and shaft on sale. You’ll get great deals on products that are not much different than the latest and greatest. Spend your money on a good pocket.
9) If you limit your circle of friends to only other lacrosse players, you’re doing yourself a disservice. The lax bro culture isn’t very cultured at all. Be your own person.
10) Be responsible for your gear, uniform, cleats, mouthpiece, etc. Take inventory well in advance of practice and make sure you have everything you need. Police up your gear after the game. Mom and dad work too hard to pay for replacement gear you lost track of because you were too busy squirting water on your teammates after practice.
11) Getting stripped of the ball creates a sinking feeling. It happens to everyone. Don’t sulk, work to get the ball back. There’s nothing worse than seeing a kid hang his head and kick rocks instead of getting after the ball that is five feet away.
12) Recognize that lacrosse is a team sport. When a teammate is open, get the ball to that player regardless of who it is. Make good decisions and let the coach worry about who he puts on the field.
13) Take pride in the little things. If you’re an attackman, ride hard. If you’re a middie, play tough “D”. If you play defense, move your feet and value position over the home run check. Hopefully, you’re trying to help your team, not make a highlight reel.
14) Respect your parents. Being disrespectful to your parents reflects poorly on you and embarrasses your family. Your parents don’t owe you anything.
15) Don’t be a twit on Twitter, Facebook, etc. It is mind boggling what kids will put out on the internet for public consumption. Don’t let a screenshot of an ill-advised internet rant ruin you. It has and will continue to do just that to all too many kids who post before thinking.
16) If it were up to most kids, they would always have new gear and clothes. Not everyone is in a position to indulge in the latest and greatest. Be deeper than judging a kid based on their appearance. Judge kids for what kind of teammate or person they are.
17) Don’t be a black hole. No matter how good you think you are, your teammates don’t want to see you dodge through double and triple teams while passing up good looks to open players, whether you score or not.
18) Show up to practice (on time) with the mindset that you are going to work to get better, not just because it’s what you have to do. Push yourself.
19) Lacrosse is a small community. Act the fool, be uncoachable, or have meddling parents and you’ll find it tough to shake that reputation.
20) From time to time, a coach is going to correct, yell, or bench you. Justified or not, get used to it and be open to the fact that you may not be as good as you (or your parents) think you are.
21) Stick tricks will do wonders for your game. You’ll wonder where your playing time went because you were wasting time trying to perfect the “Triple Lindy” or something equally ridiculous, instead of working on actual skills.
22) Don’t twirl or spin your stick. It’s a horrible habit that some kids can’t shake. A kid who can’t move the ball quickly because he has to twirl his stick every time he touches the ball will be twirling his flow on the sideline instead.
23) Put as much time getting your body in shape as you do on honing your stick skills. Those stick skills don’t mean a whole lot if you’re gassed after 10 minutes.
24) Play other sports. This has been said before, ad nauseam, because it’s good advice. Don’t burn yourself out and learn to be an athlete and not just a lacrosse player.
25) Have fun and play because you enjoy the game.